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Monday Night Raw Rants: The Club Reunites Edition

The Nerd Hub celebrates as The Club reunites this week with our WWE Monday Night Raw rants. We also celebrate the return of anything substantial actually happening on the show for the first time in weeks. Sure, Ricochet held off another challenge from AJ Styles in a repeat main event from last week. However, the big news emanating from American Airlines Center in Dallas involved Big Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and Styles turning heel together.

 

HEADLINE NEWS: AJ TURNS HEEL, REUNITES THE CLUB

WWE threw all kinds of swerves at us in the United States Championship title match main event. First, Styles appeared to have won the belt in the early going. He socked Ricochet with the Phenomenal Forearm and pinned his shoulders for the three count. However, replay and official John Cone informed the other referee that the champ got his foot under the rope. Therefore, the title change got negated and the two wrestled on.

What ensued became a seesaw affair between Ricochet and Styles. Ultimately, Ricochet came out on top as the athleticism of both took center stage during the match.

Enter The Club.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came to ringside, where they gave mock applause to the defending champ. Styles positioned himself in between his old running buddies and The One and Only, seemingly in a protective stance. However, Styles then suckerpunched Ricochet out of nowhere and announced his heel turn. Gallows and Anderson joined in for good, old-fashioned beatdown from The Club.

Don’t look now, but perhaps WWE may actually book guys we like being heel to challenge their babyfaces. You know, NOT Shane McMahon. The Club can band together and put fear into Universal Champ Seth Rollins, WWE Champ Kofi Kingston, Roman Reigns, Ricochet or Intercontinental Champ Finn Balor. Literally, any champion (besides Drake Maverick) WWE chooses to throw these guys up against would create a story likely to engage viewers.

 

BEST OF THE REST: BRAUN STROWMAN DESTROYING THINGS

WWE finally decided to end the weird contests between two of its biggest monsters. It let them do what monsters do at the box office each summer – destroy things. Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley ended the silly thread of arm wrestling and tug of war with a Falls Count Anywhere match.

The Almighty took it to The Monster Among Men a good portion of the match. Lashley whipped Strowman into the ring post before spearing him through the timekeeper’s area. Then, they took the action to the crowd. However, the assault on Braun continued as Bob smacked him liberally with a steel chair.

The babyface monster battled back with a huge running shoulder tackle. Then, he lobbed Bob onto the stage where he commenced to spearing him through a video board. It drew sparks from the board and an expletive from Corey Graves at the announce table. It also got a no-contest result as medics had to tend to both men.

You can tell Paul Heyman runs the show now on Monday Night Raw. This show smacked of Heyman if ever any show smacked of the “Paulrus” as The King calls him. Nobody knows how to cater to our inner big kid with violence and destruction more than Heyman.  The only criticism of this extension of the Strowman-Lashley feud I have is that it came out of left field. These guys went from tugging rope to blowing up sets in a week. However, that’s a huge improvement, so I’m not complaining.

 

BIG WINNER: MIKE & MARIA KANELLIS

When I previewed Stomping Grounds, I posited that WWE’s new contract extensions with Mike and Maria Kanellis likely meant an impending Cruiserweight Championship run. Little did I know, the couple would go from a near total non-factor on TV to a feud with the Universal Champ and Raw Women’s Champ.

Welcome back to the big leagues, Mike and Maria Kanellis. They set up a mixed tag match with Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch backstage. So, those of you cringing at WWE exploiting the relationship between Rollins and Lynch for entertainment purposes likely didn’t enjoy this. However, it certainly created an unexpected and entertaining twist to the storylines of the champs. They’ve both had unending rivalries with Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans lately.

However, the drama just began to unfold at the start of the match. When Becky Lynch tagged into the match, Maria dropped to the floor and grabbed a mic. She began berating her husband, Mike. She also claimed she couldn’t compete due to being pregnant. As Maria continued to lambaste her man, The Man made Mike tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her in the ring.

This led Maria to continue her rantings, saying that Becky Lynch represented the only man in the ring. Maria added that she’d ask Becky to impregnate her next time. Mike got left speechless as she walked off.

In addition to the Strowman-Lashley destruction content, this proved to me Heyman took charge this week. He’s stated in the past that Maria represents one of the most creative people with whom he’s ever worked. Apparently, he’s so confident in her abilities he didn’t care too much about pulling them from nowhere into this confrontation. Yet, many people tired of endless Lynch-Lacey Evans and Rollins-Baron Corbin content. So, this gave us something different for a change.

 

BIG LOSER: THE UNDERTAKER

Consider it part of my Shane McMahon fatigue. The Undertaker delivered a promo along with Shane-O-Mac and Drew McIntyre. The Dead Man vowed Shane and the Scottish Psychopath would rest in peace at Extreme Rules. In addition, Undertaker brought up their WrestleMania 32 tussle and claimed “The Best in the World” amounts to nothing but another lost soul among many.

Don’t get me wrong. The Undertaker is what he is at this point. He’s a nostalgia act trotted out to grab attention every now and again. However, this promo represents a cut-and-paste of any Undertaker promo you’ve seen for decades. It gets the job done, but it’s hardly unexpected or exciting.

 

HIGH FIVE

Street Profits – The NXT Tag Team Champs appeared on Raw in a meeting with Heyman. As always, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins gave an energetic hype job of their impending main roster debut. These guys bring an electricity and energy to matches in a way that’s kind of lacking in the tag division right now. They will instantly help either show they appear on.

24/7 Championship Race – Drake Maverick outsmarted R-Truth to win his coveted title back as he also tries to save his storyline marriage. The champ came out as part of No Way Jose’s Conga Line. Truth couldn’t resist rubbing it in while Maverick sat ringside with his wife who told him he’d have to choose between her or the title. However, the 205 Live GM got the last laugh by smashing Truth with a briefcase and pinning him during some of the last moments of Raw.

Carmella – The former SmackDown Women’s Champion rarely gets to wrestle on the Blue Brand these days. However, she successfully defeated SmackDown Women’s title contender Alexa Bliss on Raw. Mella did wind up losing to Nikki Cross in an ensuing match. Yet, the Staten Island Princess had to get excited about being involved in something other than being R-Truth’s sidekick.

The Viking Raiders – Erik and Ivar teamed up with Samoa Joe to hand The New Day a beating. Don’t look now, but the former NXT Champs just keep winning. So, they can  make a big impact on Raw going forward. They just need the time and commitment from the WWE creative team to do it.

Cesaro – The Swiss Cyborg ruthlessly beat WWE sparring dummy No Way Jose to a no contest. The character reboot continues for the former member of The Bar. He’s a no-nonsense, physical villain out to smack the teeth out of any babyface. It’s the type of role he’s perfectly suited to pull off. He could easily work into any feuds involving faces the WWE wants to help get over.

 

LOW FIVE

Lacey Evans/Baron Corbin – The Lady of the WWE needed to play the numbers game to beat Natalya. Yes, the same Natalya who has virtually gone into the WWE Superstar Protection Program since Ronda Rousey jetted. Kudos for getting Evans involved with someone other than Lynch. However, she lacks teeth as a credible championship contender. This booking doesn’t exactly convince anyone she’s got the goods to take down The Man.

The Miz – The A-Lister defeated Elias in a Best-of-3 Falls match. He took advantage of The Walking Truth smashing his knee into the ring post with a decisive Figure Four. However, this feud just represents two guys whose career have stalled recently in the wake of Shane McMahon’s heel push. These guys turned in some of the best content for their shows in 2018. Now, they’re involved in a pedestrian, mid-card beef.

Nikki Cross – The WWE seemed to skip ahead in their to-this-point, well-paced storyline with Cross and Bliss. Carmella calling out just how reliant The Goddess is on Cross and then beating her gave us something fantastic. However, they should’ve cut the show for these three there. Instead, they gave us a rushed match to create doubt as to whether it should be Bliss or Cross facing Bayley at Extreme Rules. Sure, we knew we were headed there. However, this seemed like fast-tracking the story a bit too much.

Bray Wyatt – The Firefly Fun House segments grew to become one of the best things on Raw the past few months. So, we notice when Bray or The Fiend goes silent. Hopefully, this carries no significance in the plans for him.

The Revival/The Usos – Extreme Rules sits only a few weeks away, but the champs and their big rivals provided nothing further. Maybe WWE just wanted to give Street Profits time on the mic by themselves. However, their appearance possibly could’ve hit another level with involvement from either of these teams. In my opinion, even a staring match as they walk past each other could’ve generated some excitement.

 

RELATED: MONDAY NIGHT RAW RANTS: RICOCHET EDITION

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The Good, The Bad and Rollynch Rules: Stomping Grounds Edition

Welcome to The Nerd Hub and our celebration of the champion couple Rollynch at WWE Stomping Grounds. Sure, Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch retained their titles. However, it’s the style with which they accomplished those championship feats which has the WWE Universe talking. So, let’s review what has everyone talking about from Sunday’s show at the Tacoma Dome.

 

HEADLINE NEWS: ROLLYNCH FOILS CORBIN, EVANS

Looorrrddd, Baron Corbin threw a curveball at us with his special guest referee. Lacey Evans appeared in a Universal Championship match angle after 6 months on the main roster. So, any fans hoping the Lady would fade away got a Woman’s Right to the chops with that booking. Yet, The Man made sure her man, Rollins, kept the Rollynch championship power couple intact at WWE Stomping Grounds.

Evans gave Corbin every advantage in the dirty ref playbook. The Sassy Southern Belle let The Lone Wolf strike Rollins with chair shots before calling for the bell. Then, she frustrated The Beastslayer with slow counts when he worked his way back into the match. Even when Rollins powerbombed Corbin through the announce table, Evans thwarted the champ by declaring its a “No Count Out” match. Corbin responded by whipping Rollins with a chair again. That’s when Evans let us all know the match also had changed to include a “No Disqualification” stipulation.

However, Lynch turned the tables on the heels. She exploded to the ring and leveled Evans with haymakers. In fact, she nearly nailed a Bexploder on Evans through a barricade. Fortunately for our champ, he got enough time to rally from an End of Days. Though Corbin attempted a second EOD, Rollins countered with a superkick and stomp for the victory.

Though some fans cringed at the idea of including a real life relationship in the story, a majority enjoyed Rollynch standing tall. Whether you enjoyed WWE shining a spotlight on their relationship, you have to credit the company for a swerve. Most fans made their mind up to hate Stomping Grounds before the show aired. Admittedly, it featured plenty of rematches. However, some of the surprises and victories by fan favorites provided a better ending than most expected.

In addition, WWE sent a message that Rollins, Lynch, Evans and Corbin figure prominently going forward. Some worried whether one or both members of Rollynch would drop a belt. Yet, they’re still on top. I’d also be surprised if we saw the last of the Evans-Lynch and Rollins-Corbin rivalries.

 

GOOD: GULAK BECOMES CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION

The Cruiserweights got banished back to the pre-show for Stomping Grounds. However, Drew Gulak, Akira Tozawa and defending champ Tony Nese impressed in their triple-threat match.

The match served as a big rollercoaster with near falls for each competitor. The deciding sequence began when The Premier Athlete tried to hit the “Running Nese” on Gulak. Unfortunately for Nese, Gulak countered with a Torture Rack. The heel then dropped Nese on the apron and Tozawa knocked the champ to the floor with a missile dropkick. As a result, Gulak got the opening he needed. He hit a Torture Rack Neckbreaker on Tozawa to become the new Cruiserweight Champion.

So, we got the result we expected with a title change. Gulak beat Tozawa so Nese can say he never really lost his title. Therefore, Gulak and Nese likely find themselves on a collision course for a grudge match at Extreme Rules.

 

BAD: EVANS UNDERWHELMS IN THE RING AGAIN

This rating falls solely on Evans’ shoulders. The booking went off perfectly. The Man absolutely deserved to retain. Obviously, WWE still feels bulllish on Evans, but her in-ring work simply screams she’s not ready yet for the title.

Astute viewers can see Lynch calling out spots for Evans the entire match. In addition, Evans clearly failed to get into position for moves a few times. With that being said, she’s still a highly entertaining character. The potential for her to rise to stardom remains. That’s why WWE continues to push her and will likely to continue to do so. However, they risk alienating potential fans of hers with a too-much-too-soon approach.

As for the match, Evans’ attempt to embarrass Lynch with the handkerchief led to her undoing again. The Man grabbed it and shoved it back into Evans’ mouth. The defending champ’s rally culminated in another Dis-Arm-Her submission victory. So, I know many hoped that successive submission victories at Money in the Bank and Stomping Grounds would end this feud. However, Evans’ inclusion in the business of Rollynch during the main event likely means it will continue.

 

GOOD: KO & ZAYN GET OVER ON NEW DAY

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn needed a win badly. They spent the past few months taking nothing but L’s against WWE Champ Kofi Kingston and New Day. So, this one got booked right as well.

Furthermore, the ring psychology of the match made all the sense in the world. The heels isolated and beat up on Xavier Woods. Meanwhile, they did just enough to fend off Big E to remain victorious. Even when Big E hit a thunderous spear to knock Zayn out of the ring, it played into the hands of the baddies. KO took advantage against Woods, hitting a Stunner for the victory.

Maintaining credibility for Owens and Zayn made a victory a necessity. Meanwhile, New Day suffers nothing from the loss. They will still get a roar from the crowd when they come out next with Kofi.

 

GOOD: RICOCHET WINS THE UNITED STATES TITLE

This provided the first surprise of the night for me. Don’t get me wrong. Ricochet deserves a huge push. However, WWE had me worried when they seemingly had him going nowhere with 50-50 booking against Cesaro. Eventually, he took two of three from the Swiss Cyborg. Yet, neither of those victories compare to his biggest main roster on to date, a win over Samoa Joe at Stomping Grounds for the US belt.

Though this one took a bit to get on track, the match soared once it got going. Joe’s overwhelming power dominated a good portion of the match. However, the babyface challenger fought his way back from everything, including a Coquina Clutch. Ricochet appeared to be seconds from losing consciousness. Then, he countered by dropping Joe’s neck on the top rope. He followed up with a knee strike to the face and his trademark 630 Splash for the victory.

In addition to the One and Only’s title win, WWE announced later a meeting with AJ Styles. Ricochet will take on The Phenomenal One in a non-title match on Monday Night Raw. Therefore, WWE clearly had bigger plans for Ricochet than we imagined. Meanwhile, Joe’s run as US Champion ended in underwhelming fashion with a program against Rey Mysterio that fell flat.

 

GOOD: TAG TEAM WRESTLING SIZZLES IN SD TITLE MATCH

Washington native Daniel Bryan and tag team partner Rowan combined with Heavy Machinery to put on a tag team wrestling clinic. Bryan scored the victory with a roll-up on Tucker to keep the belts on the heel champs. However, Otis and Tucker proved they can hang with the heavyweights of the tag team division in a big spot.

Early on, Heavy Machinery’s heft proved too much for the Earth’s Champ. Otis shrugged off Bryan’s arsenal of kicks. Then, he and Tucker hit a double-team suplex to send Bryan reeling. However, the 7-foot Redwood turned the tide on the Steaks & Weights Crew. He slugged it out, toe-to-toe with Otis and Tucker. Yet, the numbers game wore on Rowan. Eventually, Otis won a back-and-forth clothesline contest and hit a massive bodyslam.

As usual, Bryan saved the day. He hit a flying knee from the top rope to thwart Heavy Machinery’s Compactor attempt. Though Tucker got the momentum back with a top-rope splash on Rowan, he ended up falling to Bryan on the roll-up from nowhere.

These two teams didn’t disappoint. After the match, Bryan hyped tag team wrestling on social media. It sounds like WWE remains committed to bringing more respectability to that division. If this match provided any indication, expect more good things to come from Bryan & Rowan against Heavy Machinery on Tuesdays.

 

GOOD: BAYLEY RETAINS, BLISS-CROSS STORY GAINS

The SmackDown Women’s Championship match also checked all the boxes as great booking continued. Bayley scored the victory to keep her momentum growing as one of the best babyface champs on either roster. Meanwhile, WWE continued to develop the twisted friendship angle between Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Furthermore, Bliss proved quite a bit in her first spotlight singles title match since SummerSlam last August. Health concerns caused her to miss a lot of time and stay out of the ring at first upon her return. However, she looks like she’s all the way back now.

The ring story clicked on all cylinders. Bliss exploited her friend several times to gain an advantage The Hugger. However, Bayley once again outsmarted the heels as they unraveled. Ultimately, the unhinged nature of Cross ending up costing The Goddess another reign with the blue belt.

Bayley’s clinching push started when she fought her way back from Bliss targeting her arm. The Hugger hit a Sunset Flip Bomb that sent Bliss’ head smacking into a turnbuckle. The Goddess rolled to the outside and then used Cross as a human shield on Bayley’s Suicide Dive. However, this infuriated Cross and that hot-headed temper ended up costing Bliss. The Scot stormed into the ring and threw a fit at the ref while Bayley got her knees up on a Twisted Bliss attempt. The champ then hit her patented Bayley-to-Belly for the 1-2-3.

In summation, we got the right winner, a tremendous ring story and great performances from all three women. This one likely exceeded expectations anyone had going into the match.

 

BAD: REIGNS-MCINTYRE ALL ABOUT MCMAHON AGAIN

WWE had a nice slugfest between Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre brewing. Sure, it’s a WrestleMania 35 rematch. However, these guys could easily collide for a Universal Championship title in the future.

Unfortunately, the end of the match got bogged down with Shane McMahon interference. The “Best in the World” broke up a pinfall attempt, assaulted an official and hit a Coast-to-Coast on Reigns. Yet, Reigns overcame all the odds this time, unlike his Super ShowDown loss to McMahon. He rallied and nailed McIntyre with a spear to collect a victory in his rematch with McIntyre.

As a result of the booking, WWE failed to make the Scottish Psychopath look like anything more than McMahon’s minion. Reigns and McIntyre engaged in a physical, hotly contested match that could’ve done more to elevate Drew. However, the priority once again became Shane-O-Mac. Obviously, this did nothing more than serve as a commercial for an Extreme Rules gimmick match with Reigns and Shane.

 

GOOD: WWE GAVE KOFI AND ZIGGLER TIME TO WORK

The WWE Championship match built slowly, but turned into a drama-filled classic. These two veterans relished the Stomping Grounds spotlight after toiling in the midcard most of their careers. In addition, it served as a perfect setup for the drama to come in the main event between Rollynch and Corbin and Evans.

Ziggler teased making a break for it out of the steel cage early on twice. Kingston also tried to escape once in the early going. Then, the two settled in and had a hell of a match. The Hollywood Heel used the cage as his torture instrument. He had the champ reeling with a pair of leg locks and a Zig Zag. Then, he took aim for the belt with the cage door open. Though mere inches separated him from victory, Kingston stole the win with a head-first dive through the open door. As a result, Kingston hit the floor first before Ziggler could make his escape. WWE.com called it one of the most “spectacular conclusions to a Steel Cage Match in WWE history.”

Critics railed against Ziggler at Super ShowDown, alleging he looked flat quite a bit. He must’ve taken that to heart because the rematch had passion and energy. Though he ate two L’s from Kingston just week apart, Ziggler came off looking strong. Meanwhile, Kofi continues to turn in classic in-ring work almost every time he works a pay-per-view show. He keeps finding ways to excel above anyone’s expectations.

 

RELATED: WHO BOOKED THIS CRAP: STOMPING GROUNDS EDITION

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Who Booked this Crap: Stomping Grounds Edition

Welcome to The Nerd Hub and our preview of the WWE Stomping Grounds pay-per-view. Fans on social media keep holding a pre-roast of the show at Tacoma, Washington. Admittedly, it’s hard to get excited with matches we’ve just seen at Super ShowDown or Money in the Bank. However, we’ll do our best to put lipstick on this pig of a show with how we’d book it.

CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
TONY NESE VS AKIRA TOZAWA VS DREW GULAK

The booking of the Stomping Grounds Cruiserweight Championship match likely hinged on a recent contract WWE struck. Given that Mike Kanellis recently agreed to a lucrative, 5-year deal, he’s a lock for a title reign. Therefore, babyface champ Tony Nese probably retains in this triple-threat match against Akira Tozawa and Drew Gulak. It doesn’t make sense for babyface Tozawa to win and drop the belt immediately. Likewise, Gulak becoming a heel champ seems like a poor rivalry for fellow heel, Kanellis.

On the other hand, Gulak seems like the choice to upset Nese if Kanellis’ title run isn’t imminent. In fact, WWE could book it so the title changes hands without Nese losing. Under that scenario, WWE could extend the Nese-Gulak program through Extreme Rules. Nese could claim he never actually lost the title and demand a rematch. So, this match comes down to which scenario seems more likely. I’ll go with WWE trying to make Kanellis happy as quickly as possible. Therefore, I’ll take the champ to retain at Stomping Grounds.

Winner: Cruiserweight Champ Tony Nese

 

SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
DANIEL BRYAN & ROWAN VS HEAVY MACHINERY

Eco-Warrior Champ Daniel Bryan walked the line with promos against his Stomping Grounds opponents. He’s said Otis and Tucker are clowns, but they’re capable of being dangerous. However, that’s only when they’re not trying to get a laugh. As usual, most of the WWE Universe loves to hate Bryan and his 7-foot Redwood, Rowan. However, fan disdain doesn’t make Bryan’s sentiments wrong.

Furthermore, The B-Team represents the most distinguished opponents Heavy Machinery have defeated so far. In fact, Otis and Tucker’s biggest battle since their promotion from NXT remains appearing on TV consistently. Most of their matches on the main roster wind up coming against the always popular “local competitors.” Though the squash matches highlight their power, Heavy Machinery hardly seems like championship material. That’s why I don’t expect Otis to caterpillar his way to gold at Stomping Grounds.

Winner: SmackDown Tag Team Champs Daniel Bryan & Rowan

 

NEW DAY VS KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn stacked more “L’s” in the past two months than the Washington Generals. Given their antics, the New Day compare favorably to the Harlem Globetrotters. However, I expect the laughingstocks to finally get up off the mat and turn things around at Stomping Grounds.

Put simply, Owens and Zayn simply need this victory more than Big E and Xavier Woods. New Day could put on a Curt Hawkins’ like losing streak together and not lose an ounce of popularity. Furthermore, there’s absolutely no stakes on this match. Owens and Zayn gain credibility with a win, while New Day loses nothing. This one looks like a slam dunk for me.

Winners: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn 

 

UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
SAMOA JOE VS RICOCHET

Ricochet emerged as one of the biggest winners of the Stomping Grounds go-home show episode of Raw. He defeated Bobby Lashley, Cesaro, Braun Strowman and The Miz in a Fatal 5-Way to earn his title chance. Then, he ducked out on heel champ Samoa Joe’s post-match ambush. Historically, those who do well on the go-home show suffer a terrible fate on the pay-per-view show. So, The One and Only may experience a rough go at the Tacoma Dome.

The United States Champ has failed to impress much on pay-per-views in 2019. Samoa Joe squashed a reportedly injured-at-the-time Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania. Then, Joe suffered what WWE described as a “shattered nose” when Mysterio hit a seated senton at Money in the Bank. Perhaps, that led to the rough finish with Mysterio winning without actually getting Joe’s shoulders on the mat. However, Mysterio soon suffered another injury to then hand the title back to Joe week later. Therefore, Joe seemingly needs to hit a home run soon to keep the belt a bit longer.

Fortunately for Joe, this feels a tad early for a Ricochet run with the belt. However, this match could steal the show if given enough time. As a result, expect Joe’s match to run a bit longer at Stomping Grounds than the past two pay-per-views. Yet, Joe probably keeps his title. In fact, I think WWE uses this match to buy time for Mysterio to come back and beat Joe at SummerSlam.

Winner: United States Champ Samoa Joe

 

ROMAN REIGNS VS DREW MCINTYRE

Fans of the Scottish Psychopath believe Stomping Grounds may finally bring him a signature pay-per-view win. WWE billed him as a future main event scene champ when he earned his promotion from NXT. However, he’s gained the reputation over the past year of being the heel who gets over on cable TV and puts over others on Sundays. So, the booking of this match depends on whether you believe WWE pulls the trigger on McIntyre contending for a title soon.

As for me, I have my doubts for a few reasons. First, Roman Reigns just lost to Shane McMahon at Super ShowDown two weeks ago. The Big Dog doesn’t exactly stack a bunch of pay-per-view losses. Second, wild card shenanigans aside, McIntyre still exists as a Raw Superstar. So, any impending main event scene push for McIntyre would involve Seth Rollins. However, the Beastslayer already has a long line of heel challengers in Brock Lesnar, Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley and potentially AJ Styles. So, the timing on a big push for McIntyre in the Raw main event title scene looks off to me.

Furthermore, Reigns continues to get booked through the roof. The only notable setback for Reigns since his return from battling leukemia came against Shane-O-Mac. He seems far more likely for an impending title run in the short term than McIntyre. So, I expect Reigns to get over on McIntyre, just like WrestleMania 35.

Winner: Roman Reigns

 

SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
BAYLEY VS ALEXA BLISS

Welcome to wild card WWE. It’s where the SmackDown Women’s Championship will get defended against a Raw Superstar. Despite a bevy of worthy challengers on the Blue Brand, Bayley once again battles old nemesis, Alexa Bliss. However, The Hugger will not go out like she did in 2017 at Stomping Grounds.

Bayley’s fall from grace as a singles talent all started with getting buried by Bliss. The Goddess took the title off her in her hometown of San Jose at Payback. Then, WWE booked Bayley to look extremely weak in a kendo stick match at Extreme Rules. Unfortunately, it took the ultimate babyface two years to get back into the singles title scene.

However, Bayley looks like she’s back on top to stay for awhile now. She’s getting booked as the babyface champ who outsmarts heel opponents by waiting for them to unravel themselves. Furthermore, she’s proving she needs nothing as drastic as a heel turn as so many called to see from her. She’s back to being a tremendous babyface like she was on NXT.

In addition, Bayley needs to win to continue the storyline between Bliss and Nikki Cross. WWE could book it to where Bliss takes a loss and then Cross tries to avenge her in a gimmick match at Extreme Rules. Given Bliss’ delicate health situation, an Extreme Rules match might not be safe for her. Then, that could lead Cross and Bliss turning on each other down the line.

Therefore, Bayley retaining winds up helping all three performers.

Winner: SmackDown Women’s Champ Bayley

 

RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
BECKY LYNCH VS LACEY EVANS

WWE may feel tempted to throw a curveball here, but it shouldn’t. Lacey Evans owns great command of her character. She cuts great interviews. She succeeds in carrying over her persona on social media. However, she still seems like she’s got plenty to prove in the ring. In fact, her match with Charlotte Flair a few weeks ago is a contender for one of the biggest stinkers this year.

Futhermore, I’m convinced WWE chose the wrong lane for Evans with her character. Though she’s won over some fans with her “Sassy Southern Belle” work, I think her character would hit a home run playing up her past as a marine. The WWE spends plenty of time with functions involving the military. So, I feel Evans would gain much more support quicker with that gimmick. However, that also would likely mean turning her into a babyface character.

One thing is for sure. Becky Lynch should retain against any version of Evans. WWE spent four months building up Lynch’s win over Rousey at WrestleMania. It’s simply too soon to take the belt off her now. Besides, the Extreme Rules card already advertises another Lynch-Evans match. So, it makes more sense for me to keep Evans chasing after the belt. The other way around just screams of the 50-50 booking driving WWE fans nuts these days.

Winner: RAW Women’s Champ Becky Lynch

 

WWE CHAMPIONSHIP STEEL CAGE MATCH
KOFI KINGSTON VS DOLPH ZIGGLER

Here’s another chance for a WWE curveball. Kofi Kingston retained his WWE Championship with a victory over Ziggler at Super ShowDown. However, Kofi needed a big assist from Xavier Woods to do so. Woods kicked Ziggler in the head from the outside of the ring with the ref’s back turned. As a result, Kingston got the perfect setup for Trouble in Paradise for the win.

Furthermore, SmackDown lacks great main event heels right now. The only other top-shelf heat magnet remains to be Kevin Owens. However, Kingston has already defeated Owens in singles and tag team matches several times the past few months. So, Ziggler represents perhaps the only great candidate from SmackDown to dethrone Kofi before the move to Fox. If not now, Kingston probably holds the belt through October and eats a loss from Brock Lesnar.

Therefore, I will call perhaps the only upset of my predictions here. Give me the Hollywood Heel for the win. Kingston lacks his backup in this one, and I think Ziggler set the stage for a title run. Besides, WWE likes to throw belts at talents reportedly entertaining a departure from the company. Putting a belt on Ziggler likely prevents him from walking away from WWE.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

 

UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP WITH MYSTERY GUEST REFEREE
SETH ROLLINS VS BARON CORBIN

This feels like the end of the road for Seth Rollins with his Universal Championship. Everyone knows Brock Lesnar will take part in this match, likely as the guest referee. Ironically, WWE teased the Beast-in-the-Bank’s cash in for weeks to hold off only to have him do so unadvertised. However, WWE may get creative in how they get to the ending everyone expects.

Baron Corbin exists as a polarizing figure among fans. Many think he’s the absolute worst and complain he’s often booked in main events. On the other hand, he’s won over more people as his mic work and feel for generating heat have improved. So, it’s plausible WWE gives Corbin an extremely brief title reign before Brock swoops in and takes the belt back.

In fact, I think that scenario benefits all three guys the most. Rollins loses in dirty fashion, so he loses no credibility with fans. Corbin gets to say he won the Universal Championship. Lesnar fulfills Vince McMahon’s wishes and puts us back to the ultimate villain as titleholder. As a result, babyfaces start pursuit of Lesnar again and WWE can potentially get a heel-heel feud between Lesnar and Corbin.

Winner: Baron Corbin/Brock Lesnar cashes in to defeat Corbin

 

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